A Queensland start-up company is making giant strides on the international stage with a sensor that is not much bigger than the palm of your hand.
MOVUS chief executive officer Brad Parsons has just returned from a trade delegation to Israel where his product, the FitMachine, gained plenty of attention.
About the same size as a hockey puck, Mr Parsons said the FitMachine, manufactured at the company’s Brisbane base, essentially performed a health check on machinery.
“It’s the machinery equivalent of a GP and it’s doing a health check on the machine it is installed in every five minutes,” Mr Parsons said.
“What it then does is call in a specialist when the machine shows signs of needing attention.
“So instead of sending someone out every month to inspect a machine, our sensors in the FitMachine are constantly looking at the machine and working out whether it needs help and, if so, what sort of help.
“This then means that you don’t have to inspect every machine every month. Instead you wait for an alert and then send out a specialist to fix the problem.
“The FitMachine is really like the canary in the coal mine because an artificial intelligence engine predicts the problem before it happens.”
Mr Parsons admits he has been surprised at how quickly demand has grown for the machine he began developing in 2015.
MOVUS received $100,000 from the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas fund last year to advance commercialisation of the FitMachine.
Anglo American, Glencore, the University of Queensland and a regional Queensland coal seam gas manufacturer are among the companies and organisations MOVUS has signed agreements with, while there is also strong international interest.
Among the major companies Mr Parsons met with in Tel Aviv was Pepsi, whose representative indicated that they had 100 factories in Europe which could make use of the FitMachine sensor.
“The follow-up from that was an introduction to the Australian Pepsi business to run a trial here,” Mr Parsons said.
And, as recently as Tuesday, he had interest from a major commercial chicken farmer in South Africa.
“The possibilities for where the FitMachine might be utilised are unlimited and, for us, the issue is to manage that growth and any other challenges a business like ours might face,” Mr Parsons said.
“We have had to be disciplined about controlling our growth and making sure we don’t overstretch.
“In some cases we have had to say no to companies who have wanted a large number of FitMachines installed too quickly.”
With the FitMachine now placed in about 500 units across Australia, Mr Parsons is hoping to reach the 1000-unit mark by the end of the year.
“When the ramp-up comes, and it will come pretty soon, we want to be able to build them in Queensland,” Mr Parsons said.
“My view is that if you want to espouse the ‘built in Queensland’ motto, you need to walk the talk and build them here.”